Thousands kicked off welfare rolls for lying

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Thousands kicked off welfare rolls for lying

Welfare system cheats suffered the brunt of a government crackdown this week as authorities moved to cancel subsidies to those found falsely claiming welfare checks in a survey that was conducted recently.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced on Wednesday that 33,000 people, or 8 percent of the 380,000 inspected, will now completely lose their basic living subsidies.

Of these, a significant number were confirmed to have been claiming subsidies based on false earnings reports of their spouses or children.

The regulations for entitlement state that these so-called “liable supporters,” usually their spouses and children, must earn below 3.64 million won ($3,400) per month, or own total assets worth less than 150 million won, for their parents or partner to claim benefits.

Among the 33,000 who are to lose their benefits, 5,496 people had liable supporters who earned in excess of 5 million won a month. This figure stretched beyond 10 million won in a further 495 cases.

One of the most extreme examples involved an elderly man from Busan who had fraudulently claimed benefits for two decades by pretending he had no children. His son was belatedly found to work at a public enterprise and be to running a small business with his wife, netting the couple an aggregate monthly income of 14 million won.

Another 140,000 of the people surveyed will have their entitlements trimmed after it was discovered they had falsely represented their income, among other ruses.

In contrast, 95,000 will start to receive more money because they were not claiming all they were entitled to.

However, among the 33,000 who are no longer entitled to subsidies, the ministry believed about 16,000 of them were in “financial difficulty” and said it would connect them with alternative forms of financial support.

Since May, the ministry has been examining the income and assets of the liable supporters of those who receive welfare benefits to reign in excess spending. It plans to wrap up its inspection at the end of September.

It said the latest crop of welfare cheats were exposed by the government’s newly adopted computing network, dubbed “Happy E-eum,” which makes for more accurate and in-depth analyses of benefit claimants.

The ministry said it would provide a grace period of three months during which claimants can challenge the move to slash or eliminate their benefits by presenting evidence to prove why they deserve the welfare checks.

Meanwhile, of the 104,000 notified as “subjects to be scrutinized,” 43,000 have won back their eligibility upon confirmation that they are no longer in contact with their liable supporters.


By Yim Seung-hye [sharon@joongang.co.kr]

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